Saving a Southwestern Archive

$7,385 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 65 people in 32 months

The above photographs show the designer and master mind for the Chicago and Saint Louis World's Fair. H. Jay  Smith. The building of Battle Rock Mtn and some of the activities at the fair.
The construction of the Cliff dwellers exhibit at the Saint Louis World's fair has eluded us for a long time but here is one of the few photographs found of that exhibt.

Thank John Richardson for his dexterity in maneuvering through ebay.

John Fremont signature initials from Pipestone National Monument while on the Nicolette Expedtion
Winter on Highway 145 1956 Fred Blackburn on hood

The H. Jay Smith  Exploring Expedition of Battle Rock Mountain in Chicago 1893. Fournier paintings and Wetherill Artifacts. 

Broken Flute Cave Pithouse before excavation. Bernheimer 1930

Fred Blackburn and Vivian Stanley our mentor and host in Northwestern Arizona

Jefferson County Open School Documenting Northeastern Arizona

Ajax slide after hitting the Idarado Mill in Telluride 1958 Walt Honeycutt and Jack Pera in photograph

Jefferson County Open School at Harvard, documenting the Kidder and Guernsey discoveries in Marsh Pass Arizona

San Miguel first settlement at Telluride Winter 1949
1930's Sheep Herder Dendroglyph Stoner Mesa. Fewer and Fewer remain because of climate change. 

Navajo Petroglyph Arizona. 

The view from the Window documenting inscription in site northwestern Arizona
My name is Fred Blackburn.  The past 35 years I have been documenting historic inscriptions [Grafitti] in the southwest, primarily with high school youth from Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood Colorado.

We have been co-permit holders of an archaeological permit to document historic inscriptions and interview elders on the Navajo Reservation.

The purpose of which enables us to follow the routes of early expeditions. Expeditions include first archaeological, Spanish and military expeditions to the southwest.

I have been privileged to have written three books from the information gained from research on these efforts: Cowboys and Cave Dwellers, co-authored with Dr. Ray Williamson, published by the School of American Research in 1997; The Wetherill’s Friends of Mesa Verde, published by the Durango Herald Small Press in 2007, as a gift to the Centennial effort of Mesa Verde and National Park. The same year I completed the text for a coffee table photography book by Klaus Mrocynski entitled “Sacred Places of the Southwest”. I have published numerous monographs and gray papers in addition.

Two portions of the years of research have been funded. The Wetherill/Grand Gulch partially through private donors and a second as part of the Save Americas Treasures Grant at Mesa Verde National Park.

Our method of research is now termed “Reverse Archaeology” defined as: “The linking of items in museums with their original homes” and in conjunction with the National Park Service developing the methodology for the documentation of Historic Inscriptions.

I have not been funded or associated with any university through my entire research career and now find that my aging is limiting how much time I have left to complete the many writing tasks remaining, as well as find and fund the transfer of 1000’s of documents to a proper research facility. Working to provide the bills is now detracting from completing a life-long work to record.

I will require your help in making this happen.

Donors will be kept informed of my progress.  

The following projects are in limbo at the moment. Some writing and research has been completed on all but much editing and input is needed to make them a quality and accurate presentation.

1. Write up [Potential Book or Books] of our work in Prayer Rock. This was an eleven-year project with multiple themes and is the most complex venture to attack. [Portions Publishable especially with Reverse Archaeology] Four preliminary chapters are complete and a book proposal is in process. DRAFT OF BOOK PROPOSAL IN PROGRESS

2. Sniders Well/Yucca House publication is complete to start a second draft of writing. The slide show has provided the basis for the outline. A full report and possible publication is under negotiation with the possible co-authorship of an archaeological treatise by Donna Glowacki.

3. Archive preservation, documentation and digitizing of historic photographs include H.J. Smith exploring expedition, Hayden Survey, History of Ophir and Telluride, World Columbian Exposition at Chicago and Saint Louis. Gifts from work completed with John Richardson of Southern Illinois University. Digitizing and organization of historic photographs stored on computer. PREPERATION AND METHODOLOGY FOR ARCHIVAL QUALITY BEING ESTABLISHED

4. Writing Projects to meet permit requirements from the Navajo Tribe [Some of these projects contain too much sensitive information to publish and will only be presented to the Navajo Historical Cultural Preservation Department as per our permit agreement with Windowrock] Includes: Analyses and research of inscriptions documented at: Long House in Long House Valley, Marsh Pass, Bubbling Springs, Upper Long Canyon, Keet Seel Canyon. Research is completed with an analyses of inscriptions, expeditions and archaeological sites yet to be completed.

5. Completion of the transcriptions of the Kidder and Guernsey Journals [Owe this project to Harvard [14 volumes] [Publishable] Final edits on the last of the volumes remain as needed for completion and sent to Harvard, and usable for final research in Marsh Pass, Long House Valley.  COMPLETED

6. Inscription History of Mancos Canyon and The Ute Mountain Tribal Park. [Early data gathering into a very rough publication that has been utilized in several publications, but a thoroughly edited version never completed.

7. Organization of all archives in preparation for archival storage in as yet an undefined institution[s].

Monument Valley mittens 1955
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Dear folks,
must be spring as rabbit trails are appearing in the archives. We completed the scanning, documentation, and archiving of the 158 world war II photographs just to have Jim Colleran appear with 58 2 1/4 and 3 1/4 negatives taken during excavations at Chetro Ketl, and Pueblo del Arroyo??? during the 1930's. I would appreciate any help in identifying who was excavating in Chaco during this time period. Victoria believes it was UNM. There are numerous wonderful photographs of the Dine' people, including with covered wagons. At least two of the photographs show the Wetherill trading post in the background. Chuck and I will be attempting to scan the negatives and post the prints.

Here is the invormation on envelopes from the potential photographer and where they were developed. I suspect with no proof the person who took these photographs may have been on the periphery of the excavations.

Believed donor:
Sheila McMahon
4650 central ave
Riverside, California

Believed photographer????
Alice Leinau
box 836
riverside, california

photographs developed by
Hanna and Hanna, Inc.
Albuquerque New Mexico
Kodak finishing specialists
expert commercial photographers

The developing appears to have been done for Alice Leinau

Anyone who can shed light on this information please contact me.

Slides are also being sorted and labeled preparing for preparation and prioritizing for mass scanning. They are including many memories of guiding, early Telluride History and of course the many years of work in southeastern Utah.

after digitizing these slides will be going to Telluride, Durango, and the majority to Edge of the Cedars. We continue to work with Edge of the Cedars on a donation agreement.

I hope I am not day dreaming as to the importance of the collection.

Once digitized and scanned I will be reworking the website for a detailed new set of photographs as they come to life.

Mean while thank you all for your support and information. I hope sharing this with you all will lead to where you can use them for your future research efforts.

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attached are a small sample of the WWII photographs, to help explain the value.
Winston Churchill watching invasion
American GI casualties front line
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I apologize for the long stretch between updates! I attempt to write something when progress has been made. So to let you know progress has been made on many fronts.

The frustration of the Trump Administration residual affects on history, preservation is showing up in our day to day attempts to move forward.

Johnathen Till, curator at Edge of the Cedars is now drafting a proposal for archiving so we may initiate the donation of the completed archives.

We are also completing agreements with the Telluride Museum and the Center for southwest studies for items to be sent to their collection.

All of this is contingent upon the completion of digitization of slides of which we appear to have about 8,000. I have currently organized around 2000 and labeled them. They include a trip we took in 1959 to monument valley, a look at glen canyon dam while under construction as well as birds of cedar mesa, Telluride fourth of july beginning in 1953 and the history of lift building at Purgatory through lift 8. My dad was the lift manager there for many years. Telluride digitizations will go to Telluride and Purgatory items will be given to the archive at Center for Southwest Studies. To digitize the best of the slides is incurring a cost of approximately .85 cents per slide

Regarding out world war II war pool photographic collection: Yup a most delightful rabbit trail which has taught both Chuck Haspells and I a great deal about the war years of 1944 and 1945. My neighbor David Butler asked that I review the photographs. We have completed 63 of the photographs to an archival photographic and documentation state. 89 more are nearly completed. Anyone have any ideas on who to approach for archiving???

The captions were often in French and English but from a variety of sources. We have found several in the World War II archives. Currently we are looking for the best place to archive these.

I have also spent a great deal of time organizing the archive in anticipation of interns this summer.

Suffice it to say that the writing projects have suffered.

Victoria is working on the continuing documentation of the library. I have been working on the labeling of slides.

I will post photographs later as the tiff files used for archiving are too large for use on go-fund-me

Thank you all for your continued support will post again after I have something to say or show for the work.

A slow task to be done well.
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Summer and Fall have disappeared into a blur and now the dry winter approaches leaving those spring and summer projects fully exposed. As a review the summer was made delightful by the interns who we were able to pay a stipend for their stupendous work! They have left the responsibility to me to label a tabel full of photographs.

We are working on some companies which will digitize volumes of slides and see if we can make some headway on that front.

Next charge is to update the CD collection and see what is there, while completing that inventory.

A Rabbit Trail of Archiving slammed me late summer when my neighbor brought a briefcase full of World War II classic photographs of displaced leaders, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The photographs were taken by a number of news photographers now unknown and appear to have been an exhibit in France at the end of the War as they are captioned on the front in French with an English description on the back of most. They appear to be primarily of latter days of the war but Include shots in Germany, Netherlands, Burma, France, Japan, and Italy to name a few. Chuck is busy scanning these now. We hope to track down the rest of the story with time. Many of the photographs are quite graphic and poignant. Some carried the approval for showing if not shown in Britain or the western Hemisphere. The number of photographs is around 100 and required my learning more geography and the history of World War II.

So many Rabbit Trails and so Little Time!

The fall presented a new opportunity to document the inscriptions of Aztec Ruins, and Chaco Canyon. Jefferson County Open School, along with Kay Barnett, Chuck Haspells, Victoria Atkins completed a preliminary test in two of the high visitation rooms for training and difficulties to be encountered. I will be working on the Research design in the next two weeks and a potential grant. I believe there are 22 originally roofed rooms in Aztec most of the beams covered with inscriptions back to the 1870's. Incredible resource.

In Chaco Canyon we tend a survey of the "Panels" of both Rock Art and Historic Inscriptions. We completed a tentative numbering of 97 panels between a point 100 yards east of Pueblo Bonito and 100 feet west of Chetro Ketl. We noted that a special effort of deep chiseling and defacing had occurred on any Wetherill Trading Post related signatures.

Victoria, My cousins Rex and Kathleen went to Italy in September to visit my Grandmother and Grandfathers family roots in Val Del Rabbi. The first question we were asked was what we all were thinking when Trump was elected. Did not matter where people were from and they represented South Africa, Germany, Austria and Italy with all the same worries of Trump Political repercussions world wide. It is absolutely embarrassing to be an American at the moment.

The most depressing news today is that of the continuing insanity and attack on all things without a dollar attached to it. I hope I can contribute to the documentation to overturn Trump insanity in southeastern Utah and that we all last long enough to get this man as far away from the office of president as possible.

Hopefully we have as a nation learned something from this Demagogue!

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Read a Previous Update
Bill Harris
32 months ago

I have known Fred since 1984, and have shared many unique experiences with him, and his band of citizen researchers. His work is a critical link to our past, and what we love about the Southwest. As a side note to highlight the my high regard for Fred's work, my Facebook profile photo was taken in 1989 near Redman Cave in Grand Gulch on one of our inscription recording expeditions.

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$7,385 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 65 people in 32 months
Created June 11, 2015
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11 days ago
Adrienne and Walt Whatley
2 months ago

Keep up the good work Fred!!

Ned Harper Janis Nowlin
6 months ago

Here's wishing your project well, Fred.

Bob Hibschman
7 months ago

Fred - Happy to contribute again to your important work.

7 months ago
Laurie Webster
8 months ago

Fred, you are giving these students a great experience! Keep up the good work!

Bill Harris
32 months ago

I have known Fred since 1984, and have shared many unique experiences with him, and his band of citizen researchers. His work is a critical link to our past, and what we love about the Southwest. As a side note to highlight the my high regard for Fred's work, my Facebook profile photo was taken in 1989 near Redman Cave in Grand Gulch on one of our inscription recording expeditions.

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